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Also Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson gave his thoughts on the London derby which Maurizio Sarri‘s men were able to win at Selhurst Park, thanks to N’Golo Kante‘s goal in the 55th minute.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Hodgson told journalists: “We couldn’t be more adventurous unless we wanted to get beaten 4-0 or 5-0It wasn’t one of our better days technically so we could have opened ourselves up for 40 minutes and see them exploit the spaces, or we could try and do what we did and keep things tight and the keep the game under some sort of control until 20 minutes from the end and try to take our chances”.

“That’s what we did but it didn’t work as we didn’t score. It was the sort of game where we could have played better on the ball, and they were very, very good in terms of their organisation and structure, so it was going to be a tight game if we could keep it tight. That’s why we lost the game 1-0 and not by a lot of goals.”

He added: “They were very good, but in the first half our discipline was very focussed and we limited their goalscoring chances, and apart from their offside goal I thought we did quite well.

“After they scored the goal we missed two opportunities but we couldn’t get hold of the ball enough as they kept it too well and we weren’t able to get it from them.”

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Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes his side could have done even better in their London derby against Crystal Palace earlier in the afternoon. Midfielder N’Golo Kante scored in the second half as the Blues ended 2018 with win at Selhurst Park, however Chelsea failed to “kill the match” after breaking the deadlock in the second half.

The Italian boss, speaking at a press conference, said: “I think we played against a dangerous opponent, because they are very dangerous in short and long counter-attacks. We had to keep good positions under the goal-line in the offensive phase, otherwise we were in trouble”.

“I think that we played a very good match for 85 minutes. We were in full control of the match. But we didn’t kill the match and so, for us, it’s very difficult to defend in the box in the last five minutes because we haven’t very good physical impact, so we are in trouble in the box. For 85 minutes we were in full control without conceding anything to the opponents.

“I didn’t like only that we weren’t able to kill off the match before. It was better in the second half, I think, because in the first half we did everything very well but slowly. In the second half, for 40 minutes, we moved the ball better.”

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Chelsea get a vital win at Selhurst Park after beating London rivals Crystal Palace thanks to N’Golo Kante‘s  in the 51st minute.

The Blues had three clear chances to break the deadlock in the first half as Willian hit the post from a free-kick before Ross Barkley tried to beat Guaita with an acrobatic effort which goes on the woodwork again. The Brazilian winger had another chance, but his fine strike from a long range is deflected by the keeper.

Chelsea take the lead earlier in the second period when David Luiz assists N’Golo Kante, who picks the ball down and scores to put Maurizio Sarri‘s men in front in South London.

Olivier Giroud had two goals denied due to offside and was replaced by Alvaro Morata after picking-up an injury, however Kante’s mark ensures the Blues end 2018 with a win and 43 points. Tottenham Hotspur, who currently sitting 2nd in the Premier League table, are just 2 points above Chelsea after losing at Wembley Stadium against Wolves on Saturday afternoon.

CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3) – Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic, Kouyate (Meyer 79′), McArthur; Townsend, Zaha, Schlupp (Wickham 69′)

CHELSEA (4-3-3) – Kepa; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rudiger, Marcos Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley (Kovacic 88′); Willian (Emerson 8′), Giroud (Morata 77′), Hazard

Scorers: Kante 51′
Bookings: Marcos Alonso

 

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Maurizio Sarri makes twho changes from Chelsea‘s 1-2 win at Watford last time out. Olivier Giroud and Ross Barkley are in, while injured Pedro Rodriguez and midfielder Mateo Kovacic start from the bench at Selhurst Park. Also the starting line-up of Crystal Palace has been revealed:

CRYSTAL PALACE (4 5 1) – Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Sakho, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Schlupp, Milivojevic, Kouyate, McArthur, Townsend, Zaha

Subs: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Meyer, Ayew, Wickham, Puncheon

Manager: Roy Hodgson

CHELSEA (3 4 3) – Kepa, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley, Willian, Hazard, Giroud

Subs: Caballero, Kovacic, Zappacosta, Christensen, Morata, Emerson, Ampadu

Manager: Maurizio Sarri

Venue: Selhurst Park

Kick-Off: 12PM BST

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Chelsea‘s goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has impressed with some good performances in his first part of the season at Stamford Bridge.

The Spaniard said the fee paid by Chelsea for him and the fact of replacing Thibaut Courtois are not putting pressure on him: “I wouldn’t call it pressure, I would just say it is how the transfer market goes”. Kepa told Sky Sports. He went and I came in and I’m not one to focus on the comings and goings”.

Courtois won several trophies with Chelsea and now Kepa want to do the same as his colleague with the Blues: “I’m focused on myself and there is a great opportunity for me to come here. I wanted to take advantage of this and enjoy my football and look forward and not back”. the goalkeeper went on. “I’m happy here both on a personal and a team level and I’m happy here in London. Looking towards the future excites me with the possibilities we have to improve and I’m excited about what the future might bring.”

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Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was asked to provide a comment regarding his former player at Napoli Kalidou Koulibaly, who suffered racist chants from a small minority of fans at San Siro on Wednesday. Before the game, an Inter Milan fan died following clashes outside the stadium.

The Italian boss wanted to show his support towards the Napoli defender: “You know that in Italy there are some problems in football. Especially for Naples, I think.

“We stopped two matches when I was there, one against Lazio in Rome [Lazio-Napoli on 3rd February 2016], and another against Sampdoria in Genoa [Sampdoria-Napoli on 13rd May 2018]“.

“I am sorry for Kalidou because he’s a wonderful man. I’m very sorry for him and in Italy we can do more about this problem”.

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Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri spoke at a press conference ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game as the Blues take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The Italian boss said: “It’s a very difficult match because in the last three matches at home they were able to not concede a goal to the opponent, then they are very dangerous on the counter attack. We have to play against a very dangerous team, especially with it being away”.

Chelsea are currently struggling to cope with Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Man City, however Sarri believes only two teams are “a step ahead of the others” in Premier League at this stage.

“As I said from the beginning, there are two teams a step ahead of the others, Liverpool and Man City” he added.

“Now there is a little gap but I think City will be able to cover the gap, I think the title will be fought for between City and Liverpool”.

 

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Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has confirmed his side “have two problems” as both Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi are still a doubt ahead of Sunday’s clash against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The Italian boss, on the other hand, says his decision to not play Alvaro Morata in Blues’ last game at Vicarage Road was “a tactical choice”.

 

“We have two problems, the first is more serious with Pedro” said Sarri.

“He has an injury in his hamstring and I think that he will have to rest for about 10 days. The second problem is Odoi, it’s not very serious but I don’t know if he will be able to play in the next match”.

On Morata: “Alvaro now is going very well, he is fit to play. It was only a tactical choice [to not play him against Watford]”.

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Chelsea stiker Willian recognises the Blues gained three massive points last night vs Watford: 

It was very difficult,” Willian told Chelsea official website,  “In the Premier League there are no easy games, every match is tough to play, but we got the three points and we played very well. We had a lot of possession and we created a lot of chances but the Premier League is like this, until the end you have to fight, and now we have to continue.”

The Brazilian was very unlucky at Vicarage Road as he hit the post twice, but he knows the most important thing is to keep winning games:  “I think I was unlucky in the first half when I went one against one with the keeper and hit the post,” Willian went on. “We had control of the game, we scored to make it 1-0 but then we conceded a goal. We went out for the second half with the same mentality, scored a goal and tried to create some chances. We were unlucky again, I hit the post twice, but like I said we have to continue in the same way now, we cannot go up and down anymore.”

Willian hit the posts, Eden Hazard scored twice and he became the 10th Chelsea’s player to score 100 goals for the club. “I’m happy for him,” Willian  concluded. “I’m happy because he helped us to win and happy he has scored 101 goals for Chelsea, so I hope there’s more to come from him. Now we have to think about Crystal Palace.”

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According to reports from Italian Sport MediasetChelsea and Ac Milan are close to a swap deal involing Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain.

If this swap deal is finally concluded, the Spanish striker will move to the Italian side on an 18-month loan, while Higuain will become a Blues’ player on a six-month loan. Then the London club will have to reach another deal with Juventus if they want to sign Higuain on a permanent basis during next summer transfer window.

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